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Chouhan wins, BJP rues margin

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today won the Budhni by-election, defeating Congress candidate Raj Kumar Patel. But the victory margin ? 36,525 votes ? left the BJP camp subdued and fuming at the Election Commission?s tough stand on model code of conduct.

india Updated: May 07, 2006 15:14 IST
RANJAN

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today won the Budhni by-election, defeating Congress candidate Raj Kumar Patel. But the victory margin – 36,525 votes – left the BJP camp subdued and fuming at the Election Commission’s tough stand on model code of conduct.

The BJP was expecting Chouhan to post a lead of more than 50,000 votes. In the 2004 Lok Sabha election, Chouhan led by nearly 46000 votes in the Budhni assembly segment of the Vidisha parliamentary seat.

In the by-election, Chouhan polled 66689 votes against Patel’s 30164. Uma Bharti-supported Gondwana Gantantra Party candidate Guljar Singh Markam came third with 7900 votes and lost his deposit. Other 14 candidates also lost their deposits.

After Returning Officer and Sehore Collector Raghvendra Singh declared the results, Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar,  also in charge of Sehore, grumbled at the EC rules on transportation.

As a polling booth covers two to three villages, some villages have to trudge five to eight kms to cast their vote and not allowing them to use even their vehicles was unjust, Tomar told Hindustan Times.

A streak of disappointment was palpable when Chouhan addressed party workers after receiving the certificate of election.  Chouhan, who turned a foot soldier for five days after the EC cracked the code whip, said restrictions on resources and vehicles shrunk his victory margin. Voters faced hassles on transport and I-cards on the polling day; still the victory margin would have been big but for the sweltering heat and marriage functions,  Chouhan said.

Cabinet minister Rampal Singh said the conveyance problem, besides the blazing summer, kept many voters indoor. At the counting venue, the Chief Minister announced Vikas Yatra from Gopalpur to Baktara on May 12 and 13. He said the purpose of the Yatra was to thank the electorate.

Chouhan said his rivals made all attempts to ensure that the election could not be held on time but now they should accept the results gracefully. 

Earlier, the CM, while talking to journalists,  parried the question if his election was a message to Uma Bharti who had backed the GGP candidate.

The CM, wife Sadhna Singh and son were received at the counting venue by ministerial colleagues Tomar, Rampal Singh and Antar Singh Arya, and State BJP leader Arvind Bhadoria.

Party workers welcomed the victory announcement with clappings.  Beating of drums and fireworks were avoided due to Pramod Mahajan’s death two days ago.

In the bypoll Bahujan Samaj Party rebel Santosh Gaur got 2085 votes and Samajwadi Party candidate Narmada Prasad came sixth sixth with 894 votes.

Counting was done at the RAK Agriculture College with CRPF jawans throwing around a security cordon.